Dr. Zaheer Hussain hopes shorter quests will help prevent gamers from developing "pathological" addictions.
We've all had those games where you just don't want to put the controller down. The experience is just too good, too rich, and too rewarding to step away from. For most people though, there's still a point where the real world overrides the desire to keep gaming. The need to eat, sleep, and socialize can only be ignored for so long, after all. Things become problematic however, when gamers reach a point where they can't put the controller down. When then desire to play becomes a need and videogames become an addiction.
Videogame addiction is something that is all too prevalent an occurrence among fans of MMOs. While some would probably chalk this up to some games just being really good and people lacking self control, psychologists fear that some of the problem may stem from the way the games themselves are built. "Online game developers and publishers need to look into the structural features of the game design, for example the character development, rapid absorption rate, and multiplayer features which could make them addictive and or problematic for some gamers," said Dr. Zaheer Hussain, co-author of a recent study dealing with psychologically problematic aspects of game design.
According to the study, some gamers play up to ninety hours in a single session, developing a "pathological" addiction in the process. Up to eleven percent of online gamers fall under this "pathological" classification. In turn, shortening quest lengths and "[minimizing] the time spent in the game obtaining a certain prized item" are things Hussein and his colleagues believe could be helpful in stunting the development of addictions. While some might scoff at the suggestion that games need to be changed at all, Hussain's study would point to some of the restrictions placed by Asian governments on MMOs as some of the consequences the industry could face if the problem of addiction isn't addressed in some form.